John Maher, formerly known as the drummer of seventies punk band The Buzzcocks, has turned his talented hands to photography and currently has an exhibition, Nobody’s Home, at The Lighthouse in Glasgow.
Many musicians turn to photography during their careers, using the medium to record their fast paced touring lifestyles. This was the case for John, “I got my first camera when I was eighteen. It was an Olympus Trip. I bought it just before Buzzcocks went on their first tour of the USA.” Yet it wasn’t until years later when John was introduced to long exposure night photography that he honed in on a style and subject matter, since creating breathtaking work.
A fascination with abandoned buildings has stemmed from it being completely new to John. “It’s a ‘look’ that can only be achieved by the passage of time. In a big city, like my home town of Manchester, space is at such a premium and land has such a significant value, you’re unlikely to see a property being left untouched for decades.” This photographer’s ability to see the charm in buildings most would just pass by has resulted in the discovery of some remarkable sets where former inhabitants appear to have left their lives behind.
One of the most fascinating elements of John’s work is the techniques employed on each shoot using a mix of digital and analogue. John often used the method of blending multiple shots together as one, “The shots aren’t bracketed – they’re all taken at the same shutter speed and aperture. TV Set was done using that method – a compilation of nine separate exposures. It’s a low budget method of achieving a multiple light setup with a single flash.”
Not only does John’s work highlight the beauty in these abandoned buildings but it has encouraged their restoration. As a result of John’s documentation, the Western Isles’ housing body and the Carnegie Trust are planning to reconstruct the properties for families to move into – proving that "looking through a lens to the past, can help shape things in the future”.
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